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The Ultimate Connection: Intimacy


Every day I manage scores of relationships, some professional some personal. My day is filled with likes, friends, followers, emails, texts, comments, posts and voice mails. My social net is wide, but it may also be shallow. What am I missing?

My friend David, #tmolshilshomcafe #author, always questioned my social networking wizardry. He doesn’t spend much time cultivating online friendships, instead he prefers a few good coffee buddies to my hundreds of cyber friends. It’s beginning to dawn on me that besides being addicted to the caffeine, David is addicted to intimacy, which could be what’s missing in my world on many levels.

But what the heck is intimacy anyway?

For my friend Leslie, #yogi #therapist #upsidedownnurse, intimacy is “sharing things that you would not normally share with others. It’s about becoming very vulnerable. There is a trust or secrecy to being intimate. It is a connection to someone where you feel a part of them and they feel a part of you. It’s the part you share together that no one else knows about that creates the intimacy.”

Leslie’s intimacy checklist:

  • Feeling safe & accepted to share all
  • Maintaining eye contact (a must)
  • Giving undivided attention
  • Being close and touching (physically)
  • Mutual feeling that the other one’s world would break if sharing ceased

Ouch, very few of my relationships would pass this test especially the eye contact, undivided attention and physical closeness requirements.

As a side note, the other misunderstanding that surrounds intimacy is sex. For whatever flawed reason, the universe designed males to need sex to get intimate and females to need intimacy before moving to sex (advanced forgiveness is requested if there are exceptions, this scientific study is based on a focus group of five males). This setup is a prefect recipe for many trips to the pub and other ill repute establishments to drown out inevitable frustrations.

Let’s swing back to social media and why Facebook grew to 1 billion users seemingly overnight. Human beings are wired to connect. I think the underlying motivation to what we do is to make both emotional and physical connections. No wonder the internet exploded when the technology made it easy for us to reach out and poke anyone anytime. It was a show of a massive pent up demand to connect.

This need to connect is driving the mobile market through the roof. Today’s smartphones can connect you to anything that has an IP address, but they are helpless when it comes to establishing eye contact, touch and trust — the qualities of intimacy, our secret communication weapon.

About 30 years ago, before computers, internet or smartphones, I found myself on a schooner with about 20 other students heading downwind to the Virgin Islands. We lived, studied, sailed, cooked, and sang our way down island for months. We were vulnerable to the elements and to each other and those that were far away stayed that way. That schooner was a floating laboratory for intimacy. I still have a few close friends from that adventure.

But if I close my eyes and imagine all of us hanging off the rigging armed with iPhones searching for signal, I shudder and feel a loss knowing that I may never experience that kind of pure, present living again and even worse, my kids may also never know it. But then again they may have 659 followers that know what they had for breakfast.

So now what? There is no going back to that Wi-Fi-free-boat. We need to navigate a much more complex world filled with relationships that start offline and continue online and vice versa. The trick is to realize that the 522 friends you have online carry the potential for intimacy, but without an occasional physical contact it’s most likely not going to happen. Hence a coffee shop with Wi-Fi may make the most sense for my next connection.

Can intimacy be created online? Please comment below!

  • peter pitzele

    intimacy comes from the Latin word meaning inmost—what is the access to the inmost? And what is the experience of the inmost? Must it be in real time and embodied? And is the inmost for you and for me the same? If the inmost place is the heart then the question of intimacy is the question of how the heart opens and to what or whom. Intimacy with nature, with animals? With another human being? With invisible beings? Is intimacy necessarily mutual? Can the inmost in me open to unseen people experienced through an online group meditation? I suspect the inmost is peculiar to each of us: the path to the inmost and the experience of the inmost may not be something one can generalize about. And I think there are levels and layers of inmost-ness—and for me the sign of reaching my domain of inmost is often tears.

    • Ronen Yaari

      Peter, you have taken this discussion to a whole other level. Thank you. I really didn’t consider the different levels of inmost and what is my sign of reaching intimacy. More to come…

  • Adrian Schrek

    Intimacy is not that complicated. Truly being present and really listening is all it takes.

    • Ronen Yaari

      It is when everyone carries a virtual world from far away in the palm of thier hand.

  • Dina Hartenstein Rescott

    The other thing to remember is that some of us can naturally connect emotionally and physically while others are more closed in and have to work on it. I for one crave intimacy at all times in all aspects :-))) I try and surround myself with those that can openiy and honestly give that in return or at least try. Life is way to short and LOVE IS ALL WE NEED!!! So Ronen, when are we going to go on another loooong walk and talk without the use of a keyboard????

    • Ronen Yaari

      I’m in next time we hit 40 degrees. Can I bring my iPhone? 😉

      • Dina Hartenstein Rescott

        Wimp!!! Since when do you let the weather stop you?

  • Leslie Storms

    I stand by my intimacy checklist as it concerns my intimate relationship; however I have reconsidered my definition or checklist surrounding social media relationships. I am at a loss of describing what exactly intimacy would look like in a social media world…One thing I do feel is that it is individualized and I feel at a loss in explaining this to others. Personally it’s one of those gray zones…I will know it when I “feel” it…live it…experience it…witness it…step into it. lots of love and thanks you Ronen! As Sheryl Crow says, “A change will do you good..”

    • Ronen Yaari

      Leslie, you may be right… maybe we need to redefine intimacy in the Social Medial world. I will ask my kids to shine some light on this. Thanks for your help on this.

About Ronen Yaari

I’m no guru and I don’t have hundreds of hours of certifications. All I can claim is that I did not squander the time that I was given so far. I took care of my body from an early age and realized that a fit body was going to be the vehicle of choice to propel me around the planet to find what I was supposed to find. I ran marathons, biked continents, climbed glaciers, walked across states, sailed oceans, explored reefs and floated myself over yoga mats. If the sun is down I’m a sleep and if it’s up I’m outside. My biggest accomplishment by far is creating a family that enjoys each other and puts up with me.